Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Slight Misunderstanding

The other day the family loaded up in the minivan and headed to Pierce's Open House.  His class has 16 students and two teachers.  One of the teachers told me the cutest story that I had to share.

The assignment was to color pictures red if they were supposed to be red.  And if they weren't supposed to be red, the teacher told them to "X it out".

So what did Pierce do?  Well he colored the appropriate items red, of course.

But then, instead of "X it out" on the peas, which are supposed to be green, look what he did...
Yup, he wrote the word "Exit".  Granted, the letters aren't in order, but cute, huh?  And here I didn't even know he knew how to write Exit.  I confess I like Pierce's take on "X it out".  Now he just needs to work on his coloring in the lines technique....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Grandad

My grandfather passed away last week, and it has been hard on my family.  He had twinkling blue eyes and a mischievous streak that ran wider than the Potomac River, at its broadest point.  I suspect I may get part of my own long-running mischievous streak from him (and the other part I get from my Dad).

Me, age 3 or so

My Grandad loved to tell stories that would get a rise out of you.  When my favorite food was chicken and stars soup, he told me if I continued to eat it I would have stars coming out of my ears.  I never touched the stuff again. 

He hung little Gumby figures from the ceiling fan in the living room, where it would antagonize myself and my cousins, because we wanted to play with them but couldn't reach.  
Once Grandad realized how much I wanted to play with the little Gumby, I started receiving letters in the mail.  Letters informing me of an official Gumby club that had been established, between him and my uncle.  It included pictures of them with an extra large Gumby, being measured by a ruler, and grinning these huge grins.  Oh how it tormented me - I begged my parents to take my to visit so that I could play with the giant Gumby too. 

Even though Grandad told funny, teasing stories, he always made you feel special, and he brought the family alive with his stories.  Because the stories were always geared towards, and about you.  Hearing him talk about you in these humorous tall tales showed how fond he was of you, and you knew he cared.  He thrived on making you laugh. 

Even on our last visit when I was consumed with trying to keep my boys out of trouble, Grandad pulled out his arsenal of Butch tales - the pug that I had growing up.  When I became allergic, Butch went to live with my grandparents, and I only got to see him when I visited.  Grandad loved Butch as much as I did, if not more, and the 30 year running legend of Butch lived on through Grandad's words and laughter. 

Grandad and I shared a love of the outdoors, camping, animals, teaching, spicy foods, and reading.  He and I both adored the book Turpentine.  I will miss his stories and his laughter, and his off-the-wall letters to my son Pierce.  

Rest in peace, Grandad. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fajitas by Bear Muffin Tins on Monday

It's Muffin Tin Monday!  Okay, first off, my wonderful but concerned commenters can stop worrying about Pierce having to eat school lunches!  I've been packing his lunches for him, until some time future date when he tells me it's uncool for mom to pack your lunch and begs me to eat highly processed cafeteria food.  So until further notice, Pierce is still getting homemade lunches - they may not be quite as creative as some of the muffin tins I've done but they are certainly tasty and made with love.  Secondly, the twins will be getting their very first muffin tins next week, so be sure to check back for that.

So here is what Pierce had for dinner one night -
 Corn, sliced tomatoes (fresh from the garden), fajita steak, and black beans and rice.  Pierce ate everything but the rice - guess he just wasn't feeling it this day.

And here is the grown up version of that meal (which included a healthy dose of my homemade salsa on the salad) -
Mom ate everything.  Including the rice.  Yum.

For more fun muffin tin ideas, head to Muffin Tin Mom.

Friday, August 26, 2011

How's the Flock Hanging?

Well, we have chickens everywhere we look lately.  The new chicks are growing and thriving.  They are already taking over the chicken tractor -

So Paul is hard at work on building a second chicken tractor.  Even though these chicks are destined for the dinner table, we want them to be comfortable and happy during the short time they are with us.  As they get larger, we don't want them to feel overcrowded.  We also move the chicken tractor daily, so that they always have fresh grass and bugs for munching.

Our teenagers are growing up.  We did get a rooster out of the bunch.  This is good since we...uh...ate our last rooster.  He had gotten aggressive (he was always coming after me anytime I walked anywhere in the yard) and one day he charged Pierce.  So that was the end of the rooster.  Hopefully our new guy on the block won't be coming after any people - 

What's this?  This, is Reid chasing chickens around the bush.  Our four teenagers love this bush for cover.  

Foiled again, Reid.  The chicken you seek is already on the other side!
Right now we have our meat bird chicks (74 - we lost one - and we will be splitting those up with 2 friends) plus our mystery chick (which should be a layer and we will keep - thanks to Crow for the wonderful name suggestion of Frida for mystery chick!).  We also have 5 original laying hens that we have had for about a year and a half (we raised them from chicks) plus our 4 teenagers.  So that, for now, is our total flock.

Now I have some shocking news.  I'll be taking this weekend off from blogging.  I haven't taken a day off since I started blogging over a year and a half ago (other than the day Blogger was down this past spring).  Now that Pierce is in school and I don't see him quite as much, I want to make sure I spend as much time with him as possible on the weekends.  Plus, with the hurricane coming through, my internet connection (which is through a MIFI card) is likely to be spotty at best.  I'll still blog on the weekends at times, and I hope to at least pop in on some of my favorite blogs, but I'm going to tone it down and I'll look forward to seeing you all on Mondays!   Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Adjustment Issues

I've been fretting the past few weeks over Pierce's transition to Pre-K.  It's a full day program, including riding the bus, and I wasn't sure if he was ready for something like this.  I was scared to let him go.  I questioned the decision, wondering if we should've kept him in his preschool program that was only two mornings a week.  But at the same time sensing deep down that he needed this time to grow and thrive and learn.  To find his independence.

The morning before school, Pierce didn't say he was nervous, but when he had a meltdown over not being able to wear his Crocs (despite my preparing him for this) I knew something was amiss.  Luckily, I confided in him that I picked his red Converse high tops special, because the red was the color of love, and he'd look at them all day and know I loved him and was thinking about him.  It seemed to work, because he tolerated me putting his sneakers on (and in fact, later that evening, he refused to take the shoes off!).

Pierce waits for the bus at the end of our driveway on his first day...

My stomach was in knots the first day - I couldn't stop wondering how he was doing.  I wanted to park a lawn chair at the end of our driveway and wait, as though that could bring him home sooner.  It was with great relief that he got off the bus in high spirits, armed with a note from the teacher that read:
Pierce did a great job all day and seemed very happy.  He came off the bus all smiles and stayed that way all day!

I realize there will be many ups and downs along the way, but I was so relieved that he did well.  What I didn't anticipate, though, were adjustment issues from someone else.  Someone who has been watching a few too many Lassie reruns in his doghouse.
Someone who tries to jump on the bus with Pierce.  Who howls for an hour (and I do mean HOWLS - to the point that the twins keep asking why the doggie is sad, why the doggie is crying) after the bus departs.  Someone who waits, with wagging tail and whining, for the bus to arrive in the afternoon.  Who paces if it is just a few minutes behind.  And who - despite my best attempts at restraint - tries to jump on board as soon as the doors open to welcome his boy back home with a kiss.  Now that's devotion.

What am I going to do with him?

This post is linked with JDaniel4sMom -

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Salsa Was Spiked - Floyd Friday Night Jamboree

 Way on top of Bent Mountain is a little town called Floyd.  On Friday nights, their country store hosts a Jamboree of bluegrass and gospel music which draws people from far and wide. 

Last Friday, Paul suggested we go, and take the kids.  It's a bit of a drive, but a scenic one.  Once we got to town, we walked around.
 And eventually decided on Mexican food for dinner.  It was cheap.  Plus the boys like quesadillas and rice.
 Now I don't know what happened between dinner and "the aftermath", but I'm suspecting that the salsa was spiked.  Because our three sweet little boys went haywire crazy.  They were hyped up like we'd never seen them!  
It was standing room only in the Jamboree, but I couldn't even take the time to get a decent picture because the boys were all over the place.

They were trying to pull brooms and canes off the wall.

They were really insistent on some barrel diving....but I wasn't about to give my little hooligans any candy at this point!

We lasted 5 minutes in there.  Seriously.  FIVE MINUTES.  Then we cut our losses and ran out the door.  Luckily, there is still plenty to do in Floyd on a Friday night.  In fact, we checked out little artisans booths...

And listened to many of the little bluegrass bands that were set up outside.
When we were walking around, Reid opened the door of a car (apparently no one locks their doors in Floyd) and jumped in.  And he was on a LEASH!!  Fast and sneaky!
Just look at the 3 of them.  All over the place.  You see what I mean?!?  Spiked salsa indeed!

Cort, giving handfuls of dirt, to random strangers....

Dirty little feet, after shoe removal and rolling in mulch...

Hula hoop field - where members of the community leave hula hoops out for kids -
Paul and I were wiped on the drive home.  I felt like we had weathered some sort of family natural disaster that evening.  We laughed about it.  And then I made him promise never to bring up Friday Night Jamboree for at least three years....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WV State Fair - the Animals

 I wanted to share pictures from the animal and farm exhibits at the WV State Fair.  Unfortunately, Blogger wouldn't let me upload all the pictures (it said it 'rejected' some of them - even though I shrink them down to a manageable size) and in addition, it loaded all my pictures in the wrong order.  Strange happenings.  But it all took so long to get up I'm just going to roll with it as is.

The boys enjoyed a farming exhibit where they could pick apples, play dump trucks in corn, and dig for potatoes.

We went through many of the barns.  This little pig looked sad to me.

A friendly goat, who found some hay.

Cows being lazy, in the heat of the day.

I wasn't going to mess with big horns here...

Lazy pigs too...

Lots of antique tractors.  And the twins wanted to get on

Twins in the hen house, gathering eggs.

Live time hatching chicks -

Baby ducks.  Go ahead, say awwwwwwwww.  You know you want to!

Not as cute as baby ducks, and rather loud -

Pierce, hunting for eggs in the hen house -

The twins petting a bunny at the Southern States exhibit.  I have to say they were so nice there - Pierce got to hold a 3 week old bunny for a long time, and they were giving out free bottles of ice cold water (much preferable to paying $2 a bottle at other places!)
Overall, we had a great time at the fair, and I'm sure we'll be back for more next year.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thank You Rolling Stones for this Life Lesson

The other day the boys and I ran into the craft store A.C. Moore to pick up some velcro to make reusable sandwich bags (yes, the same velcro I later lost).  Pierce is well-versed in the concept that we do not buy toys every time (or even every 3rd or 4th time) we go into a store.  In fact, we rarely buy toys at all.  However, the last time we went to A.C. Moore, I let him and his brothers pick out a $1 craft as part of our Summer Bucket List.  So maybe Pierce was expecting something as a result.

I gave him my usual talk.  About having so many toys at home, and about toys costing money and trying to be careful with the money we spend.  Usually this works just fine.  But this time Pierce continued to question, "But why?"

I paused for a moment.  And listened.  And then I said, "Do you hear that?"
"Hear what?"
"That song."
"What song?"
"The song, coming over the speakers."

Pierce paused and listened to the background music.
"What's it saying?"
"They're singing You Can't Always Get What You Want which means that they're telling you that you can't get a toy this time"
Pierce listened to the Rolling Stones a minute more.  And he didn't say anything else about getting a toy.
Thank you, Rolling Stones, for this teaching moment.  I hope that stores across the land will play your song every time I enter their doors.  I promise, I will never grow tired of the lyrics.
Picture from Google

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Homemade Reusable Snack Bags

You know I like to be green and economical, not to mention have fun with food, so I've had it in my head for a while now to make some reusable snack bags to pack school lunches for Pierce.  I toyed with the idea of drawing up a pattern, but you all know my sewing skills level.  Instead, I paid $3.00 to Mamma Can Do It on Etsy and she sent me the easiest pattern to make my own.

Even though the pattern was super easy, I still ran into a million glitches along the way.  Couldn't find the PUL to make the insides (it's a waterproof yet washable fabric that is hard to track down), bought the wrong kind of velcro (don't buy sticky back -it'll mess up your machine!), messed up my machine, took it to a shop, messed it up again, lost the new velcro I bought....well, I could go on and on.  Somehow, I persevered, partly due to the loan of my mother's machine, which I absolutely do not know how to use, so it's a good thing I didn't have to rethread the bobbin.

Sandwich bag -

Inside of sandwich bag (don't look at the messy velcro stitching, my machine was messed up!) -

Snack bag (for pretzels, grapes, cookies, etc.) -

Inside of snack bag -

I'd like to make more of these.  At some point.  But for now, my machine is locked up in a cold, dark place, where it belongs.  I'll be down to torture it later.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tomato Pie Recipe

I've had a few people asking for my tomato pie recipe - it is the perfect way to use up garden tomatoes and makes for a very savory dinner dish.  It's one of those recipes I just made up, but I did make some notes so I could pass it along if it turned out well.  I doubled the recipe to make two, with the intentions of freezing one, except we got greedy and ate it.  So apparently I'll need to make more if I want any for the freezer this winter!
1 9 inch deep dish pie crust (or make your own - I went the lazy route this time around)
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 tomatoes, roughly chopped, and left in a bowl to drain a bit
1 large egg
1/2 tbsp. parsley
1 tbsp. flour (I used seasoned flour, but that's not required)
1 tsp. adobo seasoning (if you don't have this use a mixture of garlic salt, pepper, and oregano)
3/4 cup sour cream
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350*.  If you use a frozen pie shell like me, bake it in the oven about 8 minutes.  Sprinkle bottom of pie shell with chopped onion.  Top with chopped tomatoes (drained as much as possible).  In medium bowl, mix egg, parsley, flour, adobo seasoning, sour cream and cheese.  Spread over the tomatoes.  Bake in oven until browned and bubbly, about 50 minutes. 

Serves 6.

This recipe is linked with Sabroso Saturday at Latina on a Mission and with Fabulous Food Friday on Recipe Lion. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Candy Cane Beets and the Mid August Garden

 Our garden continues to do well, although it's a little messy what with the watermelon vines everywhere and in dire need of some weeding.  Our watermelon is sweet and huge!  

You may remember from earlier this summer how much I love beets.  After pickling all my other beets, I decided to replant.  I grabbed a random packet of beets - I can't remember what they were called now - maybe Italian beets?  Anyhow, they are ready for harvest and to my surprise, look how amazing they are:
 Isn't that cool?  It makes me think of candy canes.  If they came in beet format.  Which might not be such a good thing.  Wanna know how they taste?  
They taste like beets.

In my harvest basket this week - tomatoes, tomatillos, the last of the yellow squash, and striped beets.  The watermelon was too big to fit in my basket.  Almost ready are green peppers - they've been slow to come around, as well as serrano peppers (they may be ready now - anyone know how big they get?)
How does your garden grow?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

WV State Fair - the Rides

 We took the boys to the WV State Fair this past weekend.  If you've been reading Two Bears Farm long enough, you may remember posts from last year's trip.  This year, the twins got to do some rides too.  We started with the carousel.

This ride is called The Bear Affair.  It's one of those spinny deals, and my sense of balance not being what it used to be I decided to skip it.  The twins were allowed on this ride, but they were observers this time, like me.

Choo Choo Charlie was a big hit with all three boys...
 A view down the midway...

Pierce did SO many rides this year!

From up in the ferris wheel -

Can you see Pierce's little head sticking out from the very front of this fire engine?

So, do you remember the doughnut burger Paul got last year?  This year, Pierce got one too.  Only Pierce just ate the doughnuts and not the burger.  Great - my kid had two Krispy Kremes for lunch.

After lunch, we visited the animals (post coming soon!) and then back to the rides!

When we asked Pierce what the favorite part of his day was, he named off about seven rides, and then said he couldn't pick a favorite.  I'd call that a good day at the fair!